I love pasta, but I've always struggled to make my pasta taste as good as it does at Italian restaurants. I've tried making my own pasta, adding more water, less water, changing the cooking time, but nothing seemed to make that perfect pasta. Then, someone mentioned that adding more salt might make my pasta more flavorful, and it all made sense. But how do you measure how much salt in pasta water is enough?

There are dozens of different sizes and flavors of salts in the world, but for the sake of this article, my measurements will be based on my favorite salt: Morton’s coarse Kosher salt. When it comes to salt, people have lots of different opinions—salt is bad for your health, salt tastes great, salt is good for your skin, etc. But when it comes to making the best pasta, all experts agree on one thing: salting your water is a must.

Before you start cooking...

When choosing how much salt to put in your pasta water, there are a few key things to keep in mind. First, how salty do you like your food? If you're not a huge fan of salt, then I would suggest taking my recommended quantity and toning it down a little bit.

Second, how much water are you using to cook your pasta? That number on the back of the pasta box isn’t there just for show. It's there because that pasta has been tested, and that quantity of water yielded the best results. The typical amount of water suggested is 4-6 quarts, or about 1-1.5 gallons.

Adding the salt...

macaroni, pasta, spaghetti
Alex Frank

After your water is at a rolling boil, it's time to worry about the salt. Although most accomplished Italian chefs don’t give a specific quantity regarding salt, they make one thing very clear: the best pasta results from generously salting your water.

In an interview with Popsugar, Giada Delaurentis said to "make sure you add enough salt." If you can't trust her, who can you trust?

So, how much?

dairy product, chocolate, cappuccino, sweet, espresso, cream, milk, coffee
Christine Chang

For anyone who is as addicted to Tastemade snap stories as I, you have surely heard Frankly Celenza say, “the pasta water needs to be very salty, like the ocean." In one video, he does a calculation of: 1 pound of pasta to 1 gallon of water to 50 grams of salt. To put that in non-metric terms, that's a little bit less than 4 tablespoons or 1/4 cup of salt. 

Yes, that seems like an insane amount of salt when you look at it, but it's so crucial to the quality of your dish.

Kristen Aiken of the Huffington Post said, “No matter how delicious your Bolognese or marinara sauce, the pasta is the foundation upon which you build your flavors.” If your pasta is bland, there's only so much that a flavorful sauce can do to help.

angel-hair pasta, scampi, macaroni, vegetable, basil, sauce, spaghetti, pasta
Natsuko Mazany

Long story short: salt your water. A few tablespoons is a good measure, but salt to your own taste. Cooking is all about expressing who you are, having fun and, of course, trying to make good food.

The next time you're craving pasta–as I often am–experiment with different quantities of salt and see which one you like best for which dishes. As with everything in life, allow your opinions to change with time and experience. 

Buon appetito, and happy pasta making.